Pink blazers are the new black for funeral homes
by DELANEY WALKER, Banner Staff Writer
Nov 11, 2012 | 3631 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RALPH BUCKNER FUNERAL HOME services have widened to include pink blazers. Families can request the staff wear these blazers to honor loved ones whose death or life was associated with breast cancer. From left are Ryan Qualls, Joe Collins, Jim Gold, Tom Cloud, Don Brown, Don Akins and Tucker Johnston, with Ralph Buckner Jr. seated in front. Submitted photo.
RALPH BUCKNER FUNERAL HOME services have widened to include pink blazers. Families can request the staff wear these blazers to honor loved ones whose death or life was associated with breast cancer. From left are Ryan Qualls, Joe Collins, Jim Gold, Tom Cloud, Don Brown, Don Akins and Tucker Johnston, with Ralph Buckner Jr. seated in front. Submitted photo.
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Funeral homes across the nation and in Cleveland’s city limits are finally receiving the breast cancer awareness memo: Pink is the new black.

Pink blazers are being manufactured by FD (Funeral Director) Suits through Hardwick Clothes in Cleveland. The company in charge of the blazers is Wear the Pink, LLC. The founders include: Dave Kelley, Mitchell Powell, Dave Hallman, Mike Noa, Scott Stettler and John Yopp.

According to Yopp, each one of the founders brings an extensive amount of experience to the team. Yopp himself has been in the funeral home business for 32 years.

“I have always wanted to contribute a product or service that would have an impact in a loving and caring way to the families that the funeral director serves,” Yopp said.

These blazers are currently being sold to funeral homes across the country. The founders felt it would be a good outlet for families to honor loved ones who were involved with breast cancer. This includes survivors, victims and supporters.

“We were walking through Hardwick Clothes’ plant one day and saw this material there, and it was pink. We thought, ‘What can we do with this to tie it to Breast Cancer Awareness?’” Kelley said.

Kelley and company asked for several blazers to be made up as samples. The blazers were presented at the recent National Funeral Directors Association convention in Charlotte, N.C., where there were about 7,000 in attendance.

“The response was overwhelming, so we decided to launch the company and take it nationwide,” Yopp said.

These include funeral homes in Cleveland’s backyard. Ralph Buckner Jr. said he likes the idea and will be incorporating it at the Ralph Buckner Funeral Home off of Ralph Buckner Boulevard.

“Families do not have to use the blazers, but they are an option for those affected by breast cancer,” Buckner said.

Buckner’s sister was diagnosed a year and a half ago with breast cancer.

“The funeral home sees about 10-15 people affected by breast cancer each year. These people did not necessarily die of breast cancer, but from complications caused later that began with the cancer,” Buckner said.

According to Kelley, the company formally pledged $25,000 to the FSF prior to production. A matching amount will be given to the American Cancer Society to further breast cancer research. Kathy Wisnefski, Funeral Service Foundation executive director, is full of respect for the company.

“This is a for-profit organization who is willing to give 12 percent of their sales to our organization,” Wisnefski said. “What a generous, great thing to do from a philanthropic point-of-view.”

The blazers cost $195, which includes the 12 percent given to charitable organizations, according to Yopp.

“We are really limited in reducing the costs of the Blazers due to the high costs of fabric and manufacturing costs,” Yopp said. “We definitely plan to hold the price of the Blazers where they are, at least through 2013.”

Further plans for the pink blazers are currently in the works. Yopp said the opportunities outside the funeral industry are endless.

“When you see NFL players running around the field wearing pink on their uniforms, shoes, gloves, etc ... it shows the care and support that can be had from any entity or corporation.”